Sidalcea virgata / Sidalcea malviflora ssp. virgata
Rose checkermallow, or dwarf checkermallow, is a vibrant pink wildflower that is a high-quality nectar source for the endangered Fender’s blue butterfly and a host plant for many native butterflies, such as the painted lady. Each spring, its hollyhock-like flowers stand gorgeously on erect spikes 2'-3' atop mounds of attractive, dark green foliage. It can even put on a second floral show with a little extra care (see below).
- Plant type/canopy layer: deciduous perennial herbaceous plant
- Size at maturity: 0-3' tall, 0-2' wide
- Light requirements: full sun to part shade
- Moisture requirements: prefers moist, well-drained, but can tolerate drought
- Growth rate/ease: establishes quickly, easy to grow
- Bloom time: April to June + cut back and irrigate for more late-season flowers!
- Wildlife support: flowers are a high-quality nectar source for hummingbirds and adult butterflies, including the Taylor’s Checkerspot and endangered Fender’s Blue, flowers also attract and support bees and other insect pollinators; overall plant is a caterpillar host plant and larval food source for native moths and butterflies, such as the painted lady, Gray Hairstreak and Checkered Skipper
- Native range: commonly seen growing on grassy hillsides, wetlands, open meadows, and along roadsides in the Willamette Valley, central and southern OR coast and the Cascade Range. Found in only one isolated community in an open prairie of southern WA, where it is listed endangered. Historically maintained by fire. Portland Plant List – no.
- Special features & uses: beneficial insect and pollinator favorite; landscape uses include meadowscapes and pollinator gardens; drought tolerant
Gardening with Rose Checkermallow: This lovely wildflower adds a sassy pop of color to pollinator gardens, meadowscapes, and borders. It favors full to mostly sunny areas with moist, well-drained soils. That said, it proves to be quite hardy and drought tolerant, mostly disease/pest free, and therefore long-lived. After it finishes blooming in early summer, cut it back and water regularly to achieve a second, late-season bloom! Reseeds easily.
Seeding Instructions: Sow seeds directly into prepared, weed-free soil or small flats/containers in fall, since this species usually needs 45-90 days of cold, moist dormancy before seeds will germinate in spring. Each packet contains approx 80 seeds.
Photo Credit 1: "dwarf checkbloom Sidalcea malviflora" by Paul and Jill is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
Photo Credit 2: "Checker Bloom (Sidalcea malviflora)" by jkirkhart35 is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
Photo Credits 3 & 4: Tara Lemezis
Photo Credit 5: "Sidalcea malviflora, Spring in the Mary Wattis Brown Garden of California Native Plants" by UC Davis Arboretum & Public Garden is licensed under CC BY 2.0.